Picking Himself Up After A Fall
Two essentially great albums in succession can be a storm cloud hovering over a band. However, in Radiohead’s case, Kid A‘s bold shift in gears after The Bends and OK Computer worked to the band’s credit, though that album seemed to sputter to a mediocre conclusion. Amnesiac‘s apparently disjointed attempt to win fans back led to Hail to the Thief, which brought Radiohead’s seeming decline to a plateau. Even with Thom Yorke’s individuality, he couldn’t resist ostensibly chasing his own achievements. That said, his solo debut The Eraser finds him up to his old tricks, but focused, exciting and downright beautiful – the lone spike amidst the apparent recession in Radiohea’s oeuvre.
Yorke has painted a house of his pained introspection and coated it with angst and Aphex Twin-esque electronica. The title track opens the album with a jittery break beat, lushly layered strings and synthesizers, and straightforward lyrics like “Are you only being nice / Because you want something / Be careful how you respond / ‘Cause you’d not end up in this song.” Yorke even enlisted Johnny Greenwood to play some wickedly emphatic piano. “Analyze” takes the baton and continues with a subtle ferocity of skittering percussion mixed with Greenwood shifting his piano towards the hypnotic. While maintaining consistency, Yorke also incorporates seemingly ambient soundscapes and persistent angst on “Atoms For Peace,” “And It Rained All Night,” and “Cymbal Rush.”
The cohesion of The Eraser can be explained by Yorke helming this one alone (with assistance from Johnny Greenwood on piano and Radiohead production regular Nigel Godrich). That he’s still dwelling on previous achievements is irrelevant due to the album’s consistent beauty. The Eraser is definitely worth the price and could end up being a good sign of things to come from Thom Yorke as well as Radiohead.